A month has passed with very few opportunities to get on the land to do any sort of field work except yet more slug control! Visiting farms I seem to be the bearer of bad news, with the relentless battle with slugs continuing and pigeons now joining the picnic. In a few cases we have had to face the harsh reality of a failed crop where slugs and pigeons have taken the small plants. Due to crop rotations and logistics some of these areas will now be left fallow.

Where this is the case then a cover crop will be considered to take up moisture, maintain the soil structure, build fertility and add biomass to the land. This will also give us an opportunity to try and rectify some of the soil structure damage caused by the wet harvest and allow a good early entry for next season’s crop, depending on conditions through the spring.

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Where we are re-drilling failed oilseed rape the main contenders are spring beans, spring barley or spring OSR and seed has been booked. However, where there is a plant, no matter how small, we are still on plan A. Keeping pigeons off crops is going to be a massive battle, however, if we succeed we will know how well OSR can branch and compensate through the spring.

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As conditions have been cool phoma development has been slow and where fungicides have not already been applied they will be added to Kerb Flo 500 (propyzamide).

Wheat drilling continues as planned, with many varieties fine to drill through to mid-January, adjusting seed rates accordingly as long as a reasonable seed-bed can be achieved. There is still second wheat to drill in places and where sugar beet is being lifted we are assessing ground conditions and where possible wheat will be drilled.

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Post-emergence herbicides have been held up by weak plants shredded by slugs and the weather which has meant in some cases blackgrass has got away to 2-3 leaf. Where this is the case Atlantis (iodosulfuron + mesosulfuron) has been added to the residual to add contact activity, however, finding a suitable spray window has proved difficult. Where post emergence herbicides have been applied an insecticide has been included for barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) and Pixie (diflufenican + mecoprop-P) applied for volunteer beans.

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